Lesson 3: Virtual Currency in the Virgin Economy

Your writer has for a while now been curious about cryptocurrencies as a concept, particularly matters concerning how the same has spread like a wild fire in the last few years. Initially catching the eye of private investors, the initiative quickly interested many of the other players in the global economy at a rate many have concluded was revolutionary (the Bank of China has raised the standard even higher with its new DC/EP launched late last year).

 Looking more closely, one wonders whether it’s the first time we are having the interplay of virtual monies and depending on how you look at things, it may very well be a recurring event.

 The underlying principle

Digital currencies fill up a vacuum of status quo otherwise they would have been rendered a nugatory soon after their emerging. The idea here is that at times hard money makes no sense. In the alternative, it would be the actor making themselves a nuisance instead. You simply can’t have it both ways. Recall that Italian born who at the height of the ongoing pandemic carried bags of monies pouring the content out on the streets? There are too many examples, simply make use of your search engine by entering these key words; “the most stupid things people have done for money.”

There must have therefore been another way through which people in the virgin economy avoided such embarrassment despite the inexistence of virtual currencies as we know them today. It is a dead argument that they all threw themselves to the dogs in the face of instances like the ones cited above. This more so knowing that even tangible money itself wasn’t as wide spread.

 The Invisible hand

 Unlike my previous articles in these series, I presently don’t seek to zero down to the peculiarities of the lesson at hand i.e the very form that the virtual trade took then, as it will be enough if we drove home the notion that given the circumstances within which the operations at the time went on it was inevitable to transact in monetary terms all through. And on this, a couple of hypotheses will come in handy.

 So imagine as head of a family that grazes sheep you wished to exchange one of your adult rams with a neighbor’sgoat in the just concluded festivities. Unfortunate for you, the smallest of the grown sheep still weighs five kilograms more than the goat in question the result being that the odds of barter trade require that you look the other way lest there will be no exchange. Obviously, you could still retain your sheep, and have it slaughtered instead of the goat but you can be sure that no one in your household will think there was Christmas that year having eaten mutton since January.

 For the Himas of Western Uganda, one such situation came at times where one was obliged to give out one of their calves in condolence for a friend whose animal had died. It did not matter that by the end of the process a village would that way create the richest person in the community at their expense.

 Like Jeane Baptiste says’ theory in which production creates its own demand, there seems in retrospect to have been an unexplainable force in the good old days that governed the interplay of relations without pronouncing itself. It could have been compassion, it could have been trust, it could have been anything. All we know is that whoever lived in those years easily noticed its intervention.

 The old man in my grandfather

 But the virgins did not only appreciate the unseen control as inescapable, surprisingly, they appear to have embraced it beyond its parameters otherwise there would be no justification for the stories my mother tells me about her father.

 “That man” she explains, “would cut a tree calling our school administrators to help themselves where they sent each pupil for a piece of cooking wood.” And like my grandfather, the Iroquois of the Americas took on slaves as early as 1615 only to inculcate them in their families as though they shared blood ties.

 Of course, events dramatically changed following the invader’s form of slave trade. We could add and rightly so, that they’ve never been better since.

 It follows that even at the dawn of the new forms of money, some things won’t wait the patience of mining a couple of coins inevitably demanding us to shelve our little economics every once in a while like any dweller in the virgin economy would.